Constance McMillen Sent to Fake Prom, Itawamba Students Aren’t All That

CONSTANCE MCMILLEN:

So the Constance McMillen prom saga took an even more disappointing turn this weekend. Apparently, McMillen, her date, and five other students were directed to a fake prom. No, I’m not kidding, and this isn’t some terrible Lifetime movie, it’s real. After a judge ruled that McMillen could bring her date to the prom run by parents, that even was canceled and then Constance was directed a fake prom event at a country club while the rest of her classmates were enjoying themselves at their own prom, which was organized by parents. Constance’s prom enjoyed an attendance of seven students, two of which had “learning disabilities.” And g-damn if there’s anyone in high school who gets bullied and made fun of more than the learning disabled kids, we don’t even know.

Basically, everyone at this high school — students and adults alike — worked together to pull of this giant act of discrimination, even after they were told their actions were inappropriate and against the law. It’s kind of unbelievable that this scheme even worked. Either way, Constance has once again come out on top. Check out her reaction to the whole thing:

Two students with learning difficulties were among the seven people at the country club event, McMillen recalls. “They had the time of their lives,” McMillen says. “That’s the one good thing that come out of this, [these kids] didn’t have to worry about people making fun of them [at their prom].” (@huffpo)

If all this sh*t had happened to me when I was in high school, I probably would have dropped out and locked myself in my room for a few months. She has been super brave and mature about this whole debacle. So way to go Constance.

And she was only at this fake prom thing for like an hour, I guess, but I hope she still took a photo of her and her date in their dresses to add to our queer prom photo gallery. Did you guys know Ariel Schrag is in there now? ‘Cause she is.

Meanwhile… RENWL wrote a little article about a commenter who claims everything Constance is saying was made up. This is interesting and hopefully not true. [ETA: we reprinted a piece of that article here and asked you (our readers) if you felt it was irresponsible to include it, due to its total lack of reliability. The verdict was "yes, it is irresponsible to include it." So we have deleted it, but wanted to give you the heads-up so you understand the comments about it.]

VADGE:
Sisters Talk wants to talk about when gay men make jokes about vaginas and how they smell/taste/whatever. What’s up with that?

I’m so fed up with this kind of sexist and hateful running off-of-the-mouth, especially from a group of people who – in my opinion – make jokes about a woman’s vagina just to prove they’re gay.   A friend of mine once suggested that gay men who repeatedly make jokes about a woman’s vagina do so because they feel the need to justify  why they’re gay.

JOBS:
The amount of unpaid internships offered every year has ballooned since the recession, for rather obvious reasons, right? People hardly have enough money to buy Starbucks, let alone to pay some kid to go get it for them. This system has worked out really well for employers, who suggest a resume line and a reference is payment enough. But now government officials are cracking down because many of these companies could be violating minimum wage laws. What we really like about this article is what it says about how this system has an inherent class bias:

While many colleges are accepting more moderate- and low-income students to increase economic mobility, many students and administrators complain that the growth in unpaid internships undercuts that effort by favoring well-to-do and well-connected students, speeding their climb up the career ladder.

Many less affluent students say they cannot afford to spend their summers at unpaid internships, and in any case, they often do not have an uncle or family golf buddy who can connect them to a prestigious internship.

SUPREME COURT:
Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens may retire soon, which would mean Obama gets the chance to appoint another justice. Here’s a breakdown of the top three candidates for the spot, should it open up. (@365gay)

STANFORD:
Is Stanford for real the most stressful U.S. university? GOOD isn’t so sure. We should probs ask Intern Zahra, she seems to enjoy it. Also, Stanford has maybe the most beautiful campus that has ever existed. I’m just throwing that out there. (@good)

IOWA:
It’s been a year since Iowa legalized gay marriage. How are things going? Well there has been no serious move to overturn the ruling. But that could change this fall after elections.

November’s legislative elections will provide an unofficial test for the court’s ruling. Moves to support or block gay marriage are contingent upon one party having significant weight in both houses of the Iowa Legislature.

“As it stands today, we have a fair-minded majority in both the Iowa House and the Iowa Senate,” said Brad Clark, a campaign manager with gay-rights group One Iowa. “A significant number of those seats are up in November … We have our work cut out for us to protect this majority.”

LAMBDA:
Lambda Legal is looking for people who have experienced discrimination in health care because of HIV/AIDS. Looks like these stories would mostly be for educational purposes. Go share your story if you have one! (@lambdalegal)

DADT:
By now, you probs know a lot about the sometimes contradictory enforcement of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Here’s yet another story about how the military picks and chooses it’s battles w/r/t this policy. Air Force Lt. Robin Chaurasiya has decided to officially come out to her superiors because she’s tired of hiding who she is. But the Air Force has decided not to discharge her, which they can do because of this one rule that makes exceptions in DADT enforcement for service members who come out as a way to be discharged. As the Chicago Tribune blogger points out:

And while Chaurasiya’s case is not a raging injustice — she did get a ROTC scholarship and she is being allowed to serve openly as a lesbian— it does illustrate the absurd and arbitrary nature of the military’s policy toward gay people.

The law says, “the presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts . . . create(s) an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.”

Though sometimes, apparently, it doesn’t.

The exceptions prove the rule is ridiculous.

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Sarah lives in Chicago with her partner and her big white Great Dane. She is a lawyer by day and a beer brewer/bread baker/knitter by night. She & her partner are currently learning how to grow their own food, and eventually they hope to move to a small farm outside the city. In 2009-2010, before jetting off to law school, Sarah was Autostraddle's Managing Editor.

Sarah has written 130 articles for us.

43 Comments

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    I cant believe how horrible people are to that poor girl, I just wonder when all this media attention dies down will her classmates turn on her even more than they already have and bully her and what not. This group seems to say they will-> http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Constance-quit-yer-cryin/367776042862?ref=search&sid=744434630.2662644266..1 People are awful brave when they’re sitting behind their keyboards though and that group seems to have more people in favour of Constance than against!

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    So I read the RENWL article and the one the comment was in response to and all I can say is PURE FUCKING BULLSHIT.

    They label the photo in this article as Constance and her girlfriend:http://renwl.org/news/gay-press-busted-lesbian-mom-of-constance-mcmillen-no-small-oversight

    The person who commented was accurate in saying that wasn’t her girlfriend, because the same woman is in this AP photo and is labeled as her father’s girlfriend: http://news.yahoo.com/nphotos/slideshow/photo//100311/480/urn_publicid_ap_org734d1b2071bb46d3a50a3b55dba21b66/

    And WTF does it matter if she moved there in 8th grade? Is 5 years not enough time for it to be HER prom?

    Also, re: the original RENWL story claiming the gay media sat on the story about her mom being gay. WTF does that matter? I think the media has done a fine job of showing that her family supports her, it doesn’t have to be made a point that her mom is gay and it was never hidden. Autostraddle mentioned it, for one. But really, it doesn’t change the basic right and wrong of the situation and not focusing on it certainly doesn’t seem like a big gay media conspiracy to me.

    Basically, fuck off and look for facts, RENWL instead of mislabeling photos and spreading gossip. It’s been made clear the the girlfriend’s family doesn’t want her in the public spotlight. She is a minor, for Christ’s sake respect their wishes.

    This whole thing makes me beyond angry. The FB group in her support made a statement that the students are just kids, the adults are to blame and to an extent I think that’s fair. But I also believe that at 17/18 you can have a sense of right and wrong and make your own decisions. My grandfather was a marine in WWII at 17. You are by no means a baby at that age. I certainly blame the adults more, but I am disappointed in the students and hope college blows their little minds open.

    I’m going to the gym to load up on some endorphins and listen to Lady Gaga and pretend all these people who suck don’t exist.

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      I’ve been thinking about it, and I totally understand your concerns about RENWL. I think our initial inclination to include this info was because Constance’s story is so ridiculous. I’d like to think that maybe people aren’t capable of doing that to someone. But I guess I should know better, groups of people have done much much worse before. I’m still not 100% sure how I feel, but that’s just a bit of my thought process.

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        While I sadly don’t doubt that people would be mean enough to set up a fake prom, I can see where Constance’s story sounds bizarre. The bit about two of the kids having learning disabilities but it was nice for them to not have other people there was odd. Esp. since she was only there like 30min or whatever.

        It wouldn’t bother me for someone to challenge the story about the fake prom if they thought it was false, but I’d want to see it done well.

        The thing that drives me crazy about this post is that they are citing an anonymous and juvenile comment. Most of what the comment says is not relevant to whether or not she should have been allowed to go to prom/whether a fake prom happened. Any source that says “I heard…” and then a rumor can’t be taken too seriously.

        Further, I commented on the site regarding their error in labeling the photo of her dad’s girlfriend as her girlfriend and received a very rude reply that I hadn’t read the article. I had. I read it several times to make sure before searching the AP photo for comparison because I was so sure I’d heard the girlfriend’s parents wanted her out of the spotlight, I couldn’t believe the AP would have taken a photo of her posing for the camera. So I went back to the article and guess what? They edited it shortly after my comment to correctly identify the woman and I guess are now going to act like they were never wrong and I just can’t read? Their own site shows when it was last modified (after my comment) and if it didn’t incorrectly identify her before, why would the commenter need to tell them that “That girl pictured is NOT her girlfriend.” I mean, kid didn’t go ALL CAPS for nothin’.

        I don’t mind being called out for being wrong, but I do mind being called dumb when someone else has just tried to hide their own mistake.

        As for the article’s mention here, Sarah, I think it’s totally fair game. I hope you don’t take my criticism of RENWL as criticism of your mentioning of it. Even if I can’t take the site seriously, it’s important to know what is being said out there on all sides. The only thing that truly bothers me is the use of the Myspace picture- it just doesn’t seem necessary for a kid that has clearly tried to avoid being the story. Did you guys pull that one off Myspace yourselves? Just curious why she looks so much less deer-like than on the RENWL site.

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          I am not sure about that photo, Rachel, but I’ll get back to you.

          Riese and I have been talking about this today, and the lack of thorough reporting about this situation from ALL sides is pissing us off. It’s getting to the point that I might just start making some calls myself.

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          That would be kind of fantastic… ’cause really, if there was an alternate prom there has got to be some proof. And if there wasn’t, you’d think the other side would want to defend themselves as only having been lame enough to avoid the prom and not super sucktastic enough to actually set up a decoy prom to keep a few people away from their own party. Uncover the truth, Autostraddle!

          Not that you don’t already have homework and post-Dinah therapy sessions to keep you busy… have I told you lately how much I appreciate your hard work? ‘Cause I do.

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          http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/15754/q-of-the-day-should-constance-leave-fulton-and-never-look-back-or-return-to-effect-change

          Has a link to quotes/photos from students who went to the real prom and don’t understand Facebook privacy settings.

          I did a bit of FB snooping myself, one darling just posted a “Prom :)” album. Another had a status about how much fun she had dancing last night and then one on Sunday about going to church. Real nice. Far too many of the HS’s students have formal dress profile pics to be coincidence- this shit definitely went down. Just curious now to see if school officials were involved or not.

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          Tinkerbell asked Constance to be her myspace friend like fifty years ago and she still hasn’t said yes!

          A larger piece of my thought process was that the blog was running the comment as an article specifically to attract attention, and we figured by reprinting it here, we were preventing them from succeeding in that by eliminating anyone’s need to click out.

          I have been fascinated this whole time however on why no one else from her school is speaking to the press.

          I think everything in that comment that the person said could definitely be true, but none of that contradicts anything Constance has said, really. You know?

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          Who would turn down Tinkerbell?! Either, like most of us, Constance hasn’t logged into Myspace since 2007 or so or all the horrible things anyone has ever said about her are true.

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    Reporting from Iowa:
    I think some of my buddies got lax thinking, ‘ha, now we’ve got it, we can chill’
    Oh no not yet! Plus there is the whole rest of the country who needs libertain’.

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    I am confused about why RENWL is talking about “the gay press mafia” in such a general way, they seem to mostly be talking about the Advocate?? And I think the article actually is a bit confusing as a whole, as in easy to miss the point if you don’t read their whole website too –

    BUT I THINK that the point it’s trying to make is kind of . .. it DOES matter that her mom is gay, because it’s important for gay families and parents to be visible. and that perhaps in some outlets this was PURPOSELY not reported for the sake of making the story more appealing/sympathetic to a mainstream, straight, or homophobic audience – and that this in the long run does not serve the lgbt community well? but then it gets weird with the bit about her not doing this on her own, like her gay mom with a gay agenda being behind it is also bad for gays in general??? this is just what i think the article is saying, i don’t know how i feel about all of it.

    but i do think it seems from these new bits of info that what we have of this story is somehow simplified, or just, the interesting but maybe a little more confusing/nuanced parts have been taken out. the gay mom thing, and also the less-visible-and-possibly-more-genderbendery-girlfriend thing. they both point out conversations that for me are great to have within a queer-positive environment but are scary to think about what could be done with them in other contexts. and maybe that’s kind of what the renwl article is saying? that leaving out the possibly more political or threatening or confusing parts would be a cop out on the part of the Gay Press? not sure i agree, but i am so into thinking about this apparently . . .

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      Maybe there is something to the idea of keeping the mom’s lesbianism low-key to keep the story more mainstream, but I think it’s been said that the girlfriend’s family has asked for her to be kept out of the media.

      Which is why it’s actually making me really uncomfortable that Autostraddle is even posting her possible Myspace picture. She hasn’t asked for the attention.

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      ohhh, ps i was talking about the first renwl article not the one about the comment. oops. the whole things is just really strange, since renwl seems to be using “molly”‘s comment about constance wanting media attention as proof of their original complaint about the “gay press mafia” purposefully leaving out her gay mom. even if her story WERE untrue or “just for attention,” that has nothing to do with the GAY PRESS CONSPIRACY or whatever- certain outlets would have left out the gay mom part whether or not the whole thing was true or not, right? the way it was covered is possibly a valid thing to discuss but that is unrelated to the girl herself, and the way renwl is practically attacking her is just plain weird/not nice.

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        HERE’S THE FUNNY THING ABOUT THAT.

        Autostraddle published that her Mom was gay.
        Queerty published that her Mom was gay.

        Constance said that her Mom was gay in a radio interview. Look people really don’t listen or watch things, people scan text, especially in quiet news offices. So honestly, the only thing I think people have failed to do here is listen to a radio interview because they are lazy.

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          yeah, so true! i guess i just keep trying to find some small validity in the first renwl article since the rest of it gets so crazypants and they don’t seem like a totally insane organization from what i can see on the website. i keep rereading both articles and all the comments and getting more and more confused and alarmed about the crazy leaps they make but also more and more curious about why the whole thing feels so strange. from the first article to the “molly” comment to them publishing it as an article, to the conclusions drawn, something just seems OFF, besides being ridiculous.

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    The RENWL article is interesting in that the person who wrote the article seems to fall for what is called “insider trolling.” This is when someone fakes like they are an insider. The tell tell signs are all there so I take it the article was written by someone who has never visited anonymous chat boards. The fact of the matter is that the school’s attorneys and the student’s attorneys have not disagreed on one aspect yet in terms of factual occurrences. For example, they all agreed on what the teenager asked, what she was told, the number of times she asked, that she goes to the school, etc. Also not one student or teacher has gone on record or off record to dispute facts. They have gone on record to disagree what should be the decision based on the facts.

    So essentially you have a case of someone reading a comments board. It is also someone who doesn’t know how to read trolling. An L Chat troll would eat him for lunch.

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      Yeah where’s Bertha when you need her?

      I had the same thought about it. I actually read an article in WIRED Magazine a few months back about how hackers tried to attack the scientologists and there was a huge chunk in the middle all about trolling and the history/psychology of it and what it is and then I was like OHHHHHHHHH!!!! and really it should be required reading for anyone who seeks to produce content on the web.

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        Riese, here is the giveaway. The person says they are bisexual and for gay rights. No real insider would feel the need to declare that. If you have factual information that contradicts something you will state the factual information without a disclaimer. It is not uncommon for persons to lie about their identity on sites as they feel it gives them an okay to unleash an attack on the group. The supposed insider also states that it was Constance’s gf who wanted to wear the tux. The only problem is not only did Constance testify that she was asked to wear the tux but the school’s representatives also testified under oath that Constance asked to wear the tux. So unless the school’s representatives decided they wanted to lie under oath the story is automatically shot with a gigantic hole.

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    “No, I’m not kidding, and this isn’t some terrible Lifetime movie, it’s real.”

    But for real though, how long do you think it will be before they make this story a Lifetime movie? I would totes watch that. Lifetime movies = the tits.

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        Riese, that joke almost made me fall off of my bed! Everything on Lifetime is named “Mother May I…”.

        I do hope that Constance is able to sell her story for some cash so she can live somewhere more open-minded. And even more, if she wants to, I would love to see her work for change for the gay community. She seems like a bright, respectful, and assertive young woman and I think she could really effect change if she wants to.

        Although come to think of it, I think we all have the power to change the world a bit, if that’s what we want.

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    Stanford is pretty much summer camp with exams, for reals. also, the drug and alcohol policy is almost non-existent, so that should take us off the list right away. seriously, though, the most stressful thing on my plate right now is a paper and the fact that i just ate a jelly bean that tastes like sweat.

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    I can’t believe that in 2010 Constance and the kids with learning disabilities were made to go to a separate prom. I have learning disabilities and I was out in high school (my friends like to call me a civil rights lawyers wet dream). Some people were mean to me but on the whole I went to prom with my girlfriend and there was no problem. And this was all in a small town in Canada in 1999 this town really needs to get with the changing times.

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    I don’t think it’s responsible to republish the article claiming McMillen’s story is made up. Her story held up in court, and even if it hadn’t, claiming “she’s making it up” is an age-old tactic to keep oppressed people down. It’s disgusting and we shouldn’t even bring it up except to explain how irrelevant/ridiculous it is. As you said, even if there ARE contradictions in McMillen’s story, none of them change the fact that she was treated unjustly by her school administration, her fellow students, and parents in her community.

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    Dear Mississippi,

    I know you have a few problems. You know, there’s just SO MUCH about you that could be good. But you’re just a little too screwed up to quite get there.
    Well, Mississippi…next year, I’m leavin’ yo ass to go to Columbia (the 2nd most stressful U.S. university???). And one day, I’m going to come back to you and help turn everything right side up.
    Queers will run free; and you, Mississippi, will cease to be a public embarrassment. I know you’re going to hate me for a while. I know you and your entrenched conservatism will kick and fight. But one of these days, you’ll thank me.

    Love,

    Briana

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      THIS. it’s a wonderful sentiment. i left my small Pennsylvania town for NYC and never turned back. but how wonderful would be it be if we all went back to where we came from and made a difference for all those poor queer kids growing up there, feeling alone?

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      I’ve been wanting to comment on all the people who tell Constance to get the fuck out and never come back, but it’s too frustrating. To be honest, I wouldn’t blame anybody for wanting to leave Mississippi, but it’s nice to hear people say that they want to stay or come back and make a difference. If more people down here were like you, we wouldn’t have damn near segregated public schools and so much homophobia. Prejudice people keep succeeding in chasing off people they don’t like, and it makes change frustratingly slow.

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    Blew my effing mind when I read the articles on it. It seemed like a really, really bad joke but there are recent photo’s all over the internet of other students at prom. It’s so like a nightmare/baaaad tv movie that she and other students got sent to a fake prom. I hope they feel really ashamed of themselves because they look like idiots. Karma is going to kick their arses so hard.

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    This would actually be a great opportunity to have an Autostraddle exclusive. If y’all could get Tila Tequila then Constance shouldn’t be a problem. Hell, give her a column!

    I can see where the downplaying of her mum would be to not sensationalise the story further. It might have just added to the “OMG THEY’RE ALL FREAKS” factor, and it’s not like her mum’s sexuality would have made or broken the prom (and if it was a factor, that’s even more of a terrible move). It’s Constance’s story, not Constance’s mum’s story.

    When I first heard about the Facebook page (via Tumblr) I was sick to my stomach. It was triggering, mainly because I knew that if Facebook was around during my school time (esp my primary school) I would totally have had the same treatment. I was targeted, ostracised, and humiliated by teachers and students alike for my race; I’ve been left out of awards I strongly deserved, I’ve been downgraded in classes despite being the victim of bullying, I’ve been publicially humiliated for my art. Teachers have bragged to my sister about how they told me to “go back to your country”. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did indeed hold a private event and didn’t invite me.

    It shocks me that people are still dickheads even now. You’d think they’d learn to put themselves in other people’s shoes! I really really hope Constance gets a much better time once school is over, and that she doesn’t fall into harm (from others or herself – I tried to kill myself as a kid) because people are GODDAMN IDIOTS. And apparently not just to her either! What’s wrong with the school!?

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      That facebook page was so upsetting to me I agree 100% that nowadays it is hard if not impossible to get away from bulling. At least when I was a kid I could go home and be away from it all. Hopefully these kids will grow up and learn from this whole mess. When I was in high school there was one guy who would go out of his way harass me and my girlfriend then one day out of the blue he calls me to apologize. He said his sister came out to him and it made him sick to think of how he treated me. People change hopefully one day these people will look back and be disgusted with themselves and their actions.

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      Oh, and this comment from ne of the earlier links, as terrible as it is, shows the center of the dilemma of highlighting Constance’s mum’s sexuality:

      ********8

      *By her own admission* McMillen was encouraged by her lesbian mother and her mother’s activist friends to use the prom to force a contest over lgbt rights.

      As a “lone lesbian activist student in a Southern school” she has a much more marketable media story than as a well connected and supported agent of older, experienced lgbt activists.

      The gay media “mafia” has been called out on repressing this information for their own purposes.

      But look what the gay media has done for McMillen — launched her as a gay media darling, providing money and celeb status within the community as only the lgbt community can do!

      While McMillen was busy with her lgbt political agenda, many of her senior classmates (including non activist inclined gays)chose to celebrate their high school years with a party elsewhere, privately, *free from* an lgbt agenda.

      McMillen is protected to pursue her lgbt agenda publically and her classmates are protected to pursue private partying that *excludes* an lgbt agenda.

      ********

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    Man high school sucks. Flicking through different articles/FB groups and personal profiles there are students at the school that are supportive but it’s so hard to be in high school and speak up sometimes, especially when it’s all over the news.

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    Mid April sure is early to have senior proms.
    When does their school year actually end?

    Anyway, I recall Constance had a lot more support from her peer group before she went on Ellen and collected $30 grand scholarship money and referred to her entire hometown as “backwards hicks”.

    For some reason, the kids didn’t want to dance with her after that. Go figure.
    Sorry to hear about the ADHD kids who also got left out though. Probably just guilt by association there. I’d like to know how GLAAD plans to reimburse their prom to them.

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